What are wetsuit patterns?
Wetsuit patterns are templates used to cut out each individual wetsuit panel from a flat piece of neoprene sheet. To create a 3d shaped wetsuit we glue and stitch these panels together. A body has complex curves, and neoprene is flat. Therefore, a good wetsuit pattern results in a good fitting wetsuit, without material bulking up or overstretching in certain areas. Wetsuit patterns are usually designed in a 2d or 3d CAD program before they are cut out into paper patterns. Paper wetsuit patterns are used during the wetsuit development process. We use them to check the panel shapes before we transfer them onto a neoprene sheet. Thereafter, we cut out the neoprene and assemble it to form a wetsuit. How do we determine wetsuit pattern sizes? The size of the wetsuit pattern obviously influences the wetsuit size.
The panel layout of a wetsuit determines the panel shape. The panel layout is the result of the seam placement on a wetsuit which creates the function and wetsuit design. An optimal panel layout has seam placements in strategic places to avoid rash and reduces restrictions in the stretch. This boosts the performance and comfort of a wetsuit. Another effect on panel layout is the use of different neoprene thicknesses to accommodate warmth and flexibility in key areas of the wetsuit. The chest and back panels are usually thicker than the arm panels. This means there needs to be a seam between the chest and arms, which has an effect on the panel layout. Wetsuit styling has a big influence on panel layout as well. However, a good wetsuit prioritizes function over styling. And we believe good design creates a good looking wetsuit.
Pattern size vs. body size
How do we determine pattern sizes? A wetsuit should fit snug around your body. Therefore the wetsuit is stretched slightly to create a sealed fit. A wetsuit should not fit loose around your body or feel too tight. The right fit is important and is vital to good wetsuit performance. This means the wetsuit patterns should actually be slightly smaller than your body size. This allows for the wetsuit to stretch slightly when you put it on. The percentage of neoprene stretch that gives you the perfect fit is a balancing act that is part of the wetsuit development process.
Wetsuit stretch percentage
Most wetsuit brands have done the needed calculations, trial and error and a lot of fit testing before they bring a product to the market. So you usually don’t have to worry about the stretch percentage between the panels and your body size to find the perfect fit. A size finder or size chart will calculate your height, weight, chest and waist sizes to determine the best wetsuit size to fit your body type.
Wetsuit sizes are not always easy to understand. There’s a huge difference between sizes such as medium, large and extra-large compared to extra tall sizes such as Medium Tall (MT) and Large Tall (LT). Extra-wide or short sizes are available too. For example, Medium Short (MS) or Large Short (LS). These tall or short sizes can fit thinner and taller or wider and shorter body types compared to the standard sizes. Don’t just buy a medium because you always wear medium T-shirts. Take the time to determine your perfect wetsuit size by using our online Size Finder. Be aware that all brands have a different fit. Therefore, always check your body measurements against the wetsuit size before buying a wetsuit.